|Scorecard:||Australia v India|
|Player:||BW Hilfenhaus, PM Siddle|
|Event:||India in Australia 2011/12|
DateLine: 15th January 2012
In association with Etihad Airways.
A second successive innings victory over India has put Australia in an unassailable position in the four-Test series. Having gone down to such an overwhelming defeat in less than two-and-a half days, a dispirited India will need to re-group and lift themselves if they are to make any impression in the remaining Test at Adelaide starting a week on Tuesday. They will be further disappointed with the absence of the captain MS Dhoni as he has been suspended by ICC for his side's slow over rate. It is his second offence after a similar problem in Barbados in June 2011 when he was fined. Vice-captain Virender Sehwag will lead the side and the gloves will be worn by Wridhiman Saha.
While India's weaknesses have been ruthlessly exposed in this series, Australia has been in the process of strengthening a side which is beginning to give glimpses of the professionalism and efficiency of the great Australia team that dominated the cricket world for a decade and a half from the late eighties. India's bowling has generally lacked penetration throughout the series with the opposition piling on the runs and their batsmen have not been able to cope with pace.
Dhoni said: "If you look at the team that played in England and the three Test matches over here, we have not put enough runs on the board. There was only one instance when they have put over 350 odd runs so that is something we need to be careful about because we want to give our bowlers those amount of runs so that they can look to get the opposition out. One or two bad innings can happen in Test cricket (and) one odd bowler can bowl really well and he may get the opposition out (within his teamís low total) but overall I think seven Test matches is a bit long for the batting line to fail."
He added: "Certainly in the amount of cricket that I've seen this is definitely one of the worst phases where we have not done consistently well. What really has been consistent is the batting line-up flopping. We have to score at least 300 to 325 depending on the venue and the wicket which we have not been able to do."
Regardless of how the final Test goes for India, there will have to be some thought given to changes after the series. The middle order of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, the most formidable of the modern era but now ageing on 39, 38 and 37 respectively, have struggled and India must now re-build. Having lost four nil in England in the last northern summer they have now suffered their seventh consecutive defeat in away Tests.
Resuming the innings on 88 for four and needing a further 120 to make Australia bat again, Dravid and Virat Kohli batted for just over an hour and a quarter in such determined fashion as if they were wholly intent on their side avoiding an innings defeat. While the veteran Dravid, on 32 overnight, was more defensive his younger partner, 11 runs behind him at the start of the day, played his strokes more freely. The India hundred came up with Dravid cutting Ben Hilfenhaus for four and that was also the fifty of the stand.
Kohli, meanwhile had been scoring steadily and brought up his third Test half century from 92 balls when he flicked Mitchell Starc to wide mid-on for his sixth boundary. Soon after that Australia got the breakthrough with Ryan Harris bowling Dravid (on 47 in three hours) between bat and pad as he tried to play it through mid-wicket. The ball had swung in and flicked Dravid's pad before hitting leg stump. It is the 54th time that Dravid has been bowled out, more times than any other player in Test cricket. Prior to him former Australia captain Allan Border had been dismissed in the same manner on 53 occasions.
With Dhoni joining Kohli it seemed India would be able to offer some resistance but twenty minutes before lunch Dhoni, on 2, edged Peter Siddle to first slip with the total 148 for six. Kohli took his score to 75, passing his previous highest Test score of 63 when a sensational over from Hilfenhaus all but ended the innings. He claimed three wickets in five balls without conceding a run. All three fell on the total of 171. With his first ball he had Vinay Kumar held by Michael Clarke at first slip for six and the next ball accounted for Zaheer Khan who gloved a rising ball for Clarke to take it overhead.
Three balls later Ishant Sharma plodded yet another ball on the up to short leg and Umesh Yadav managed to block the hat-trick ball. It was a great over from Hilfenhaus who finished with four for 54. Siddle wrapped up the innings two balls later when Kohli, after three and a quarter hours at the crease, got a nick to be caught behind. His was Siddle's third wicket for 43 and India's six remaining overnight wickets had fallen in a space of 36 runs, crashing to yet another humiliating defeat.
Australia captain, Clarke said: "It's a very satisfying victory, I think a lot of credit has to go not only to Dave (Warner) who batted unbelievably well but also to Ed Cowan. As an opening partnership they played really well in pretty tough batting conditions. They made it look easy but there was enough out there for the bowlers and once again our bowlers deserve a lot of credit. To be able to get such a good batting order out again, taking twenty wickets, they deserve a lot of credit."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)